US - Halibut catches could be cut by 33 percent next year if proposed numbers get the nod by the International Pacific Halibut Commission next month, writes Laine Welch in Fish Factor.
That would mean a coast wide harvest of just 22.7 million pounds for fisheries in California, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska. Alaska's share of the halibut catch would be 17.4 million pounds, down from about 25 million this year.
Unlike past years, staff scientists are not making catch limit recommendations by separate areas. Instead, they are providing "assessment and advice frameworks" to the commission that embodies the risks and benefits associated with choices for harvests in certain areas.
"We are trying to provide a link between previous years and this year using what's being called a Blue Line out of the decision table," explained Bruce Leaman, IPHC executive director after an interim meeting last week . "That is the application of our current harvest policy using the rates in each area to the results of this year's stock assessments. So that is what the Blue Line represents – but it is not a recommendation by the staff, it is just one of the choices we are putting forward for the Commission to decide on in January."
Leaman said the most significant thing that came out of this year's halibut stock assessment was the solution to a "retrospective problem" that has been plaguing the stock for the past several years.
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